COOS BAY — Hundreds gathered on Central Avenue in downtown Coos Bay this weekend for the 37th Blackberry Arts Festival, hosted by the Coos Bay Downtown Association.

The gathering brought over 100 artisans to Coos Bay, many of whom had blackberry-inspired items to share and sell. Blackberry jams, wines, pies and more were sampled and sold throughout the two-day festival.

Jim McCoy of Crescent City, Calif., stands Saturday outside his wife's Material Girl booth during the Blackberry Arts Festival on Central Aven…

Many of the vendors involved sold products that contained blackberries. The Blackberry Arts Festival is a juried festival, with all of the artists chosen by the Downtown Association.

“We’ve been coming out here for 10 to 12 years at least. I’ve only been doing this event for six or seven years now,” said Travis Stetzel, general manager at Depoe Bay Winery. “It’s one of our favorite events of the year, because our blackberry wine is our best-selling and most popular wine, so the Blackberry Arts Festival is perfect for us.”

For some, like Logan Neikirk of Blackberry Lovin’ Mamas, the festival is an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family while sharing blackberry treats.

"I grew up in Coos Bay and I moved away from when I was about middle school age, and now I’m going into college,” Neikirk said. “It’s kind of our yearly tradition to come back and see the family and sell blackberry pies and milkshakes. My favorite thing about the blackberry festival is just coming back and seeing everybody really stoked on the pies and milkshakes. Having people come up and say ‘oh, man I come here every year for those milkshakes’, I really like that.”

One highlight this year was the Storm Drain Mural Walk. A collaboration between the Coos Art Museum, the Coos Watershed Association, the City of Coos Bay, the Coquille Tribe, and the Downtown Association brought local artists to the streets to create environmentally conscious storm drain murals.

Artwork made from recycled materials for sale Saturday during the Blackberry Arts Festival on Central Avenue in Coos Bay.

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K-DOCK Radio brought some music to the festival with their “Blackberry Jam.” A stage was setup at the festival by K-DOCK to showcase local musicians, including contestants in this year's Got Talent Coos Bay youth talent competition. 

“This festival is a fantastic opportunity to bring people in from around the region, said Coos Bay City Councilor and K-DOCK General Manager Stephanie Kilmer. “I like that this festival is unique, there aren’t a lot of juried art festivals that I’m aware of. We also get a chance to showcase some of our local talent. We have so many artisans and musicians around.”

For the third year in row, a Blackberry recipe contest was held, and 22 different individuals and businesses brought their best Blackberry treats.

“The blackberry hazelnut cheesecake is the first in house flavor that we’ve made,” said David Schaller, Blackberry recipe contestant with Sasquatch Creamery Cheesecakes in Brookings. “We’re using the state berry and the state nut, so it’s a very Oregonian.”

For the first time this year, the Elks Lodge in downtown Coos Bay hosted the recipe contest.

“I loved the salad with the blackberry dressing, it was amazing,” Coos Bay Elks Lodge exalted ruler Karen Hofer said. “This is the first year the Elks have been involved and we’ve had such a good time. I’m so full.”

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.